Jason Kessler said that he didn’t want neo-Nazis at Unite the Right 2, but boy did he get them.
When Kessler and his crew arrived at Lafayette Park yesterday, they were faced with thousands of counter-protesters surrounding the park. Inside the park, there were between 20 and 30 attendees (a handful of those attendees were also speakers) and members of the press, who were surrounded by hundreds of Secret Service, National Park Service, and D.C. Police officers.
People who attended the rally yesterday, and the right-wing media that defend them, have hyped the false assertion that the organizers are champions of free-speech while maligning counter-demonstrators in a “both sides” treatment suggesting that those who oppose white supremacy are on-par with white supremacists themselves. This is exactly the narrative that Kessler hoped to present yesterday, and unfortunately, some reporters were happy to oblige.
This rally, however small it was, was chock full of the kind of extremists that Kessler claims not to be. Attendees handed out pamphlets to the press that featured an email address with the numbers “1488” in it, which is an infamous homage to the “14 Words” white supremacist slogan and the letters “HH” to acronym for “Heil Hitler.” American Spectator’s Evan Maguire photographed a woman with a “1488” arm tattoo and a man with a “14” tattooed on his face.
Jason Kessler said Unite the Right 2 wasn’t about white supremacy but surprise surprise here’s attendees with tattoos and pamphlets touting the neo-Nazi symbol 1488 and the 14 Words slogan pic.twitter.com/oIOQMU3uUj
— Caleb Ecarma (@calebecarma) August 12, 2018
Other attendees wore skull-adorned balaclavas, which is common among members of the violent “Rise Above Movement.” But they complied with Kessler’s orders not to bring overt neo-Nazi flags and banners to the event. Although Kessler’s rally was small and short, the participants were essentially identical to those who gathered in Charlottesville last year.
And not surprisingly, as has become the par for the course at right-wing events in the United States in modern times, a few of the extremists attending Kessler’s rally were sporting pins paying homage to the “QAnon” conspiracy theory.
QAnon supporters joined Jason Kessler at Unite the Right 2 today, kept themselves covered in flags and bandanas pic.twitter.com/lzxuK3Reok
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) August 12, 2018
Kessler blamed his dismal showing yesterday on the fact that people were “rightly scared of coming out” for fear of violent confrontation or being identified and having their lives ruined by bad publicity. But Kessler said that the fact that his rally was able to happen in the first place was good enough.
“We had to prove the point that we could do this rally and that people would be safe,” Kessler said.
Shortly after a second wave of reporters were let in, police canceled the rally on account of a wave of storms entering the area. But before Unite the Right 2 participants left the area, press swarmed around Kessler for one last shot at questions.
“This is the beginning of a movement,” Kessler was telling viewers on his Periscope broadcast after the rally.
“Are you disappointed?” a reporter interjected.
“Get out of my face, dude,” Kessler responded.
Unite the Right 2 ended nearly two hours ahead of schedule. The rally was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., but police escorted Kessler and company back out of the park before 5 p.m.